For many years, gamers have gotten into heated debates over which console—Sony’s PlayStation or Microsoft’s XBox—reigned superior, noting everything from exclusive content to the shape of the controllers. But over the past decade, PC gaming has joined the ranks as a solid contender. In fact, as of June 2018, 52% of American gamers stated that they prefer gaming on a PC to playing on a console or mobile device.
While it’s unlikely that PC gaming will ever make consoles obsolete, it’s safe to say that it’s here to stay. And while many gamers still prefer to stick to a pre-built PC—as a result of anything from convenience and cost to lack of knowledge—custom machines are quickly becoming a staple for many PC gamers.
Thanks to sites like NewEgg, whose custom PC builder allows users to put together a custom gaming PC piece by piece, PC building is now easier—and in some cases, cheaper—than ever.
But this raises an important question: Are custom-built computers really better?
Is a Custom PC Cheaper?
Typically, yes. When you purchase a pre-built computer, you aren’t just paying for the machine—you’re also paying for the labor and shipping costs, as well as materials used to put the PC together. However, when purchasing individual parts for your custom PC, you’re skipping the cost of labor, and often the cost of shipping if you bundle your purchases.
When comparing an entry-level custom machine to a similar pre-built computer, all of the parts for the custom PC come out to about $500 less than the pre-built. And as you move on to more high-end parts and more expensive customization options, you’ll notice the price gap getting larger.
However, when you buy a gaming PC that is pre-built, PC sites like NewEgg typically offer at least a 1-year warranty for the entire machine, along with the manufacturer’s warranty. When you build a custom PC, each part is going to come with a different warranty depending on the manufacturer. So while your power supply might be covered with a 1-year warranty, your CPU cooler might only be 30 days, and so on. If one individual component of your customized build stops working, you can either use the warranty or swap it out for a newer part without voiding the warranty of the whole machine, but replacing an individual part on a pre-built rig will typically void your warranty.
It is always a good idea to research warranty options both through NewEgg and through the manufacturer before building your machine. If you don’t like traditional horizontal displays, you can try this PC.
Does a Custom Gaming PC Perform Better Than a Pre-Built?
This answer depends on how much money you’re willing to put into either type of build. NewEgg’s Custom PC Builder lets consumers browse customization options in order to buy the best parts to suit their needs and their budget. If you plan to use your custom machine for gaming, you’re likely going to opt for whichever GeForce RTX video card fits your needs and your budget, but you also have the option to spend a little less on a power supply, case customization options, etc, so you can get the top-of-the-line where you need it, and mid-tier where spending a ton of extra money won’t make a difference. Sometimes, saving a little money does sacrifice some of the capabilities of your PC, but if you build your machine right, you likely won’t notice a difference.
Building a custom PC also allows you to future-proof your rig, making it easy to upgrade components as new versions are released.
When it comes to buying a pre-built PC, if you want the top of the line product in a specific area, you’re going to have to pay for the top-of-the-line components throughout the entire machine. If you’re purchasing your gaming PC for professional use (such as competitive gaming and frequent streaming), settling for a mid- or low-tier rig might not be an option for you, and you will have to spend more on the machine as a whole.
Is PC Building Difficult?
The difficulty of building a custom PC is relative to your knowledge of computers. If you are looking into building a custom machine, chances are you already know a little bit about how to build a computer. This base knowledge, along with build guides on YouTube and Reddit, should be enough to walk you through building your PC. However, if you run into problems or if you just want to double-check that you’re doing everything right, reaching out to a knowledgeable friend or customer service is always a good idea.
When it comes to deciding between building a custom PC and buying a pre-built machine, there is no right or wrong answer. The choice boils down to how much time and money you’re willing to put into your gaming PC, and which type of rig will give you the best experience when you finally sit down to play.